Author Topic: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives  (Read 83101 times)

Vanguard

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #60 on: October 22, 2013, 12:51:46 PM »
A game can be good without any story or characterization.  I think Go is the best game ever made, and it's about white and black rocks on a board.  Quality game mechanics and content can stand on their own.  They don't need validation from a story.

That doesn't mean stories are bad and have no value, even in the context of video games.  Stuff like X-Com and Dwarf Fortress where you get a unique story every time is really cool.  Uncovering the secrets of Morrowind's history is just as interesting as learning its mechanics.  Even something as simple as controlling a character you like can be fun.

But just like game mechanics, not all stories are equal.  Why bother investing yourself in characters or events when the author showed little effort or poor ability?  Why should anyone care about another generic fantasy setting when there isn't a single original idea in the entire thing?

If you're going to do something, do it right.  A bad, intrusive story is worse than no story at all.

On the topic of roguelikes, specifically - they're poorly suited for traditional storytelling.  They tend to be very mechanic-focused, and it's common for players to have seen some parts of the game hundreds of times while having never seen others at all.  Even if someone did write a legitimately good story in a roguelike, it'd suffer from the genre's limitations.

By the way, have you ever played Incursion?  It's incomplete and will probably never be finished, but it's an interesting attempt at making a roleplaying-focused roguelike based on D&D.  I was impressed with it, and I think you will be too.

Vanguard

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #61 on: October 22, 2013, 02:10:54 PM »
Well, maybe the sentiments aren't that opposite and the relationship between minmaxing and roleplaying is more complex. What about "In a not-so-good (cRPG) game roleplaying and minmaxing conflict, in a good game they don't interfere with each other and in a great game they are one and the same"? Sounds good?

The best way to achieve this is to include as little traditional, linear narrative in your game as possible.  In games divided between gameplay segments and cutscenes, the two never quite match up.  On the other hand, in strategy games the story matches up with your actions perfectly, because the story is your actions.  I've been using Chess and Go as examples of "pure" mechanical games, but really even in those a narrative arises from each player's decisions.  Ideally you'll want to set your game in a "victory at all costs" scenario.  If the player character doesn't have that mindset, but the player controlling them does, their actions will stop making sense.

zasvid

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #62 on: October 22, 2013, 03:47:45 PM »
Well, maybe the sentiments aren't that opposite and the relationship between minmaxing and roleplaying is more complex. What about "In a not-so-good (cRPG) game roleplaying and minmaxing conflict, in a good game they don't interfere with each other and in a great game they are one and the same"? Sounds good?

The best way to achieve this is to include as little traditional, linear narrative in your game as possible.  In games divided between gameplay segments and cutscenes, the two never quite match up.  On the other hand, in strategy games the story matches up with your actions perfectly, because the story is your actions.  I've been using Chess and Go as examples of "pure" mechanical games, but really even in those a narrative arises from each player's decisions.  Ideally you'll want to set your game in a "victory at all costs" scenario.  If the player character doesn't have that mindset, but the player controlling them does, their actions will stop making sense.

I think the problem is that traditional, linear narrative matches poorly with traditional game structure.

Gr3yling

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #63 on: October 23, 2013, 03:48:58 AM »
That doesn't mean stories are bad and have no value, even in the context of video games.  Stuff like X-Com and Dwarf Fortress where you get a unique story every time is really cool.  Uncovering the secrets of Morrowind's history is just as interesting as learning its mechanics.  Even something as simple as controlling a character you like can be fun.

Actually, Morrowind is exactly what I was thinking of.  I think it would be very cool to have books and other sources of lore scattered throughout the world.  They wouldn't be intrusive or contain information required to beat the game, they would just be there for flavor. 

And, who knows, maybe they could contain hints about what was required for the "Ultra Ending" or whatever other secrets were present in the game.

Really, what was so cool to me about Morrowind was its world and the legend of the Nerevarrine, not the PC themself.  I wouldn't want to add the anything like cutscenes to my ideal roguelike, but think you could reproduce that feeling of a really intriguing world.

Gr3yling

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #64 on: October 23, 2013, 04:01:28 AM »
I've been using Chess and Go as examples of "pure" mechanical games, but really even in those a narrative arises from each player's decisions.

But that's such a limited narrative it's hardly even worth mentioning, isn't it?  I'm sorry, I don't really understand what you are saying here.

A game can be good without any story or characterization.  I think Go is the best game ever made, and it's about white and black rocks on a board.  Quality game mechanics and content can stand on their own.  They don't need validation from a story.

Right, and I would never say that a game needed a story, complex or otherwise, to be fun or interesting.  But I think that the fact we are all  posting here so enthusiastically about roleplaying games rather than chess or go does have something to do with their story.  I mean, I think there is an inherent tendency to identify with the PC, at least to some extent, that is not present in the non-anthropomorphic pieces used to play board games.  And I think that identification makes us start to see the PC's experiences as being like a story that we star in, at least in some way.

I guess the point is that I don't think that just because a player's actions influence the outcome of a game, there is intrinsically a story (of any meaningful type) that can be told about the series of events that occur in that game. 

Or, if there is a "story" that can be told about the game of go, it is a story about the players rather than the PC's.  Is that the kind of story that you were talking about?  One about two people matching wits, and how their thought processes manifest in the playing space?

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #65 on: October 23, 2013, 09:27:47 AM »
Or, if there is a "story" that can be told about the game of go, it is a story about the players rather than the PC's.  Is that the kind of story that you were talking about?  One about two people matching wits, and how their thought processes manifest in the playing space?

Both.  Go can easily be seen as the story of two cultures competing for the same area of land until one overwhelms the other.  Chess is already presented as a conflict between two armies.  The details will be unique, but every round will fit this basic structure.  In addition to that, there's a story about the mechanical conflict between the players and what each of them did over the course of the game.

The same elements exist in single player games.  The first one is the story about how SFADGH the dwarf knight set out to defeat the dark lord and got eaten by a bear.  The second is the story of how your cat jumped on your keyboard, ruining your near-ascension.

Gr3yling

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #66 on: October 23, 2013, 11:57:25 PM »
Oh, by the way, I was very impressed by incursion, Vanguard.  I've only read the manual so far, but the ideas that I have seen seem really cool.  I'm having some trouble downloading it, but I'm sure I will figure it out by this weekend.

Thanks for recommending it.

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #67 on: October 24, 2013, 02:15:58 AM »
A game can be good without any story or characterization.  I think Go is the best game ever made, and it's about white and black rocks on a board.  Quality game mechanics and content can stand on their own.  They don't need validation from a story....


Boy I'm with you Van. I love me some story in books and movies, love it. I love to gossip and hear other people's stories. I love to write stories.

But I don't need them in my games. I like rule based games. Arcade, Strategy, RL, Boardgames, etc...let the players create the story in their minds.

Some people are narrative gamers though. They are under served by the RL genre, but I'm cool with that. The most story one of these games needs is the standard plot elements.

I am reading about the LOCK structure of analyzing and building plot.

Lead: Lead character, who is he. In an RL you can introduce this in the title, like Rogue did.

Objective: Give him a quest. Amulet you say? Well I'll go get it! Ghosts and Goblins has a good way of doing this, with a quick intro of a devil taking your damsel, and then you putting your armor on.

Conflict: Boss fights, hunger. You can write about your game and it sounds like a story if there are conflicts.

Knockout: This is the climax, the final big battle.

Those are the basic elements of a plot. When people talk about story in games though they are wanting to be drug around some predestined path and read a bunch stuff...that's just not what a good RL does in my opinion.

And as soon as someone proves me wrong I'm going to be ecstatic!

EDIT: Looks like DF and URR are on the way to doing this. I've yet to fathom the depths of DF...

Gr3yling

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #68 on: October 24, 2013, 03:11:34 AM »
Those are the basic elements of a plot. When people talk about story in games though they are wanting to be drug around some predestined path and read a bunch stuff...that's just not what a good RL does in my opinion.

I agree that being drug along a predestined path and being forced to read stuff is a bad idea, but that's not really what I'm suggesting.  I don't know if you read Vanguards or my earlier posts about Morrowind, but I like the way it integrated story and I think that a roguelike could successfully do similar things. 

The idea is that it the player could read more about the game world and its history in books that they found, or maybe by selecting particular dialogue options.  None of this information would be mandatory, it would just be there to make things seem more real.  And it would be easily avoidable if the player didn't want to mess with these sorts of tangents.  I also like the idea of character creation stories, like in ADOM's character creation system. 

What do you think about those ideas?

guest509

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #69 on: October 24, 2013, 07:11:44 AM »
I guess they sound great if you are trying to serve those players interested in narrative.

I'm just not, not in games, that's all. I'd be one of those that skips everything immediately.

One of my biggest disappointments in games is when you cannot skip all the cut scenes, and even when you can skip them they completely stop the game and take you out of play. Sucks bad, and it's done to placate those that want to be drug through a story. It's horrible. Like those scenes are some sort of 'reward' for playing to that point or something. Gah! Also most games with narrative will have in game sequences as well that seem like playing but really aren't. I hate those too.

What you are talking about is just hiding the lore text files in the game itself. That sounds cool, but it's hardly on my top 10 things I'd spend my time on when coding something, as it's mere filler. Having nothing to do with the game play.

Games like Morrowind are an entirely different animal. They are not achievement type designs, where you get further and better each time by mastering the game. RL's, strategy games and arcade games are examples of these types of game. Morrowind and most other RPGs are time based designs, where you get further merely by spending time in game. You spend time and learn more, get more cool abilities, learn cool stuff, it's more laid back. Both are fun in their own way, and they share various elements.

In RPG's I'd say that lore and walls of text are pretty much part of the genre expectation. Conversation trees and other types of things as well. Roguelikes might include these but I neither expect nor desire it. It gets brought up a lot as a weakness of the genre, as something the games are missing. I agree it's a weakness but I don't see it as missing anything.

But I'm pretty fringe when it comes to my attitudes on narrative nonsense ruining my game experience. I like to PLAY games not EXPERIENCE games. I have a vast collection of books for experiencing things and they are WAY better written because they are not beholden to gameplay, and in the games I like the actual playing is not beholden to the clumsy lore and narrative inserted to placate the narrative types.

I recommend the Silmarilion for lore junkies, probably spelled that wrong.

But again, those are very specific attitudes that I have and are NOT shared by the wider gaming community. It's my personal quirk.

guest509

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #70 on: October 24, 2013, 07:15:18 AM »
I'm also not advocating for the non-inclusion of said elements. What I am saying is that I usually won't play a game like that.

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #71 on: October 24, 2013, 09:37:13 AM »
Jo:

Great post, A+

I really hate how games with atrophied mechanics and an emphasis on their sub-Hollywood stories are seen as inherently greater than games with strong mechanics and little to no story like DoDonPachi, Crawl, and Doom.  Those games are all superb and could never be replicated in any other medium, yet for some reason most gamers would rather replace them with pretentious action movies.

Morrowind is great, but it's not what I want from most games.  Besides, the huge majority of game writers could never produce work on Morrowind's level.  Michael Kirkbride is worlds ahead of the norm in game writing, and even as good as he is, he can't compete with real world mythology.

Gr3yling

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #72 on: October 24, 2013, 04:02:02 PM »
But again, those are very specific attitudes that I have and are NOT shared by the wider gaming community. It's my personal quirk.

Based on the people I have talked to, I would say that most people in the (roguelike) gaming community feel the same way that you do, actually.

And in some ways I understand that response, and in some ways I don't.  I hear what you are saying, but it seems like there is a deep, almost visceral dislike of the kind of ideas that I mentioned in roguelike game players.  I feel like if the elements I mentioned are skippable (even ADOM's story based character creation is entirely optional), people still react to them in a way that is very negative.  And it seems like if such elements are not mandatory, the response should be neutral or better.

Lets look at a specific example: do you think that ADOM has "too much narrative" going on?  It does have the type of character creation stories that I mentioned, it has a limited source of in game lore (fortune cookies), and it has very limited dialogue choices.  Do you wish those things had not been implemented?

Basically, if you don't like games with (optional) narrative, that's fine, but I've been hearing that for a while and hearing it again doesn't help me very much.  I realize you don't want to add more story elements to roguelikes, but if it had to be there, how would you do it?

You also mention (somewhat dismissively?) how adding more narrative in the ways I have mentioned amounts to just "hiding" text files in the game.   I don't find that to be a very constructive criticism, honestly.  Would you rather the player have to go online to look up this information?

Incidentally, I haven't read the Silmarillion, but it seems pretty intimidating.

even as good as he is, he can't compete with real world mythology.

Really?  I tried reading a book on mythology recently, and I just couldn't get into it.  My personal opinion is that modern fantasy conventions, even in roguelikes, are more interesting than the stories I read.   By the way, I do realize that a lot of these conventions are derived from myths.

Anyway, maybe someone else can help me appreciate mythology better.  I'm certainly open to learning more about it. 

What mythological stories are you thinking of when you say modern day fantasy writers can't compete with mythology? 



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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #73 on: October 25, 2013, 08:42:19 AM »
What mythological stories are you thinking of when you say modern day fantasy writers can't compete with mythology?

Pretty much anything.  Greek and Norse mythology seem to be the most popular, and they're winners for sure, but you can find cool stuff anywhere.  It's all so wildly original while modern fantasy is the same exact thing again and again.

One of the cool things about myths is that people really believed them.  They're not stories about a made up fake world.  They're about the world we live in, seen in the crazy way the human mind perceives reality.  They're based on real things people experienced and believed.

The gods aren't just wizards and superheroes who rule the universe.  That's stupid.  That's what modern fantasy writers do.  The old gods are ineffable forces of nature.  They aren't superpowered forces living outside of our world.  They are our world.  They're part of everything we see and experience.  They're the reason why living things die and why lightning strikes.  We have earthquakes because Loki is struggling against his chains deep beneath the earth.

But at the same time, the gods are also individuals with their own personalities and desires, and their actions can have a huge effect on people's lives.  The Trojan War happened because Eris played a prank that went too far.  The dew you see in the grass every morning is really Aurora's tears, because Achilles killed her son.  Humanity is dominant over other animals because Prometheus gave them fire, and as punishment Zeus had him chained up where an eagle would come and eat his liver every day.

Video game gods have one thing they're obsessed with and they only care about that.  Mythological gods were more understandable.  They're more human.  They get emotional and behave irrationally just like people do.  Arachne was a mortal who was better at weaving than Athena, the goddess of weaving.  In a video game Arachne would be Athena's favorite follower, with max piety and a ton of bonus powers.  But instead Athena cursed her to become a spider as punishment for her hubris.  And that's why we have spiders now.

Zireael

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Re: Roguelike Gameflow - Alternatives
« Reply #74 on: October 25, 2013, 12:07:30 PM »
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By the way, have you ever played Incursion?  It's incomplete and will probably never be finished, but it's an interesting attempt at making a roleplaying-focused roguelike based on D&D.  I was impressed with it, and I think you will be too.

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Oh, by the way, I was very impressed by incursion, Vanguard.  I've only read the manual so far, but the ideas that I have seen seem really cool.  I'm having some trouble downloading it, but I'm sure I will figure it out by this weekend.

Thanks for recommending it.

Gry3ling, you know there is a new attempt at making a D&D based roguelike? :) As one of the aims is making the game clear and easy to pick up, any feedback is most welcome!
« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 02:47:17 PM by Zireael »